The recent death of Ivorian footballer Cheick Tiote on the pitch brought an outpouring of sadness in the world of football. This left us asking if there is any evidence to suggest that African players are more likely to die on the pitch than other players. Down are other African footballers who died tragically.
5. Senzo Meyiwa -30 years
Senzo Robert Meyiwa was a South African footballer who played as a goalkeeper for Orlando Pirates in the Premier Soccer League, and for the South Africa national team.
At his girlfriend’s house in south Johannesburg, on 26 October 2014, Meyiwa was shot and killed by two men. The two men were burglars according to South African police.
The Cameroonian defensive midfielder was part of the Dinamo Bucaresti side at the time of his death. He only made a handful appearance for the team before collapsing during a match against Viitorul Constanta on May 6th, 2016.
Ekeng, 26, had come on as a sub in the second half. He was feeling quite fatigued and had told a friend that he did not feel like playing on the day. Ekeng fell down in the 69th minute of the match and was taken to hospital thereafter. He died two hours after passing out.
3. Marc-Vivien Foe -28 years
Foe tragically passed away in 2003 in the middle of the FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final game between Cameroon and Colombia. He collapsed near the center circle and after attempts were made on the pitch to resuscitate him, he was stretchered off and received mouth-to-mouth and oxygen as medics spent 45-minutes trying to restart his heart.
His death profoundly shocked the world, and despite calls for the tournament to be abandoned in respect for Foe, the matches went ahead as planned, and Cameroon eventually lost the final to France.
In respect for Foe, French captain Marcel Desailly lifted the trophy with Cameroon captain Rigobert Song, as both teams came together to pay tribute to their fallen colleague.
2. Albert Ebosse -24 years
On 23 August 2014, Bodjongo was struck on the head by a projectile thrown by an unknown person while the teams were leaving the field at the end of a home game between JSK and USM Alger.
The match had ended in a 2–1 defeat, with Bodjongo contributing the sole JSK goal. Bodjongo died a few hours later in hospital of a traumatic brain injury.
Following Bodjongo’s death, the Algerian Football Federation suspended all football indefinitely and ordered the closure of the 1st November 1954 stadium. When the league resumed, all matches on that week were preceded with a minute silence in memory of Bodjongo.
1. Cheick Tiote
The former Newcastle player was taken from us far too soon, as he collapsed in the middle of a training session for second-tier Chinese team Beijing Enterprises, for whom he had signed in February of 2017 after leaving Newcastle.
Demba Ba was amongst the first to pay tribute to the Ivorian via social media, and soon afterward, many of his former Newcastle teammates followed suit.
His former managers were similarly effusive with praise: Rafael Benítez labelled him “a true professional”, Alan Pardew described him as “everything that you want in a Newcastle player”, Steve McClaren (who had managed him at both Twente and Newcastle) remembered him as the toughest player he had ever seen, and Chris Hughton (who had brought him to Newcastle) spoke of his humility and called him “the perfect fit”.
With his body returned to his home country, Tiote was given a military funeral in Abidjan on 18 June, attended by his national teammates and politicians including prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly. Beijing Enterprises retired Tioté’s number 24 shirt on 24 June.